Left to my own devices

So the new book doesn’t offer up all that much advice about how to behave around men. She does, rather awesomely, give advice on advancing your career, decorating your apartment, investing in the stockmarket and entertaining at home as according to her you can’t be a truly happy and attractive single woman unless you’re living a full and fulfilling life, man or no man.

And too right. It’s actually fascinating to see how this book, written before the big feminist wave in the 1970s, stacks up against post-feminism-era The Rules. While The Rules essentially decrees that no woman is truly happy unless she has a diamond on her finger and therefore should devote every waking hour to ensnaring her man, Sex and the Single Girl is all about being clever, successful, attractive and all around amazing – not because you want to get a man, but because you deserve to live a fabulous life.

Also, dear Helen is the first author of one of these books to say what everyone else is thinking (well, at least what I’m thinking): women like sex and shouldn’t have to deny themselves the pleasure of sex in order to convince a man that she is valuable. While both The Rules and (to a lesser degree) The Technique of the Love Affair were all about the Virgin/Whore complex (where withholding sex leads to power and allure), Sex and the Single Girl encourages readers to embrace their sexuality and be open about the fact that sex, when good, is pretty fucking amazing. In short, a woman who loves sex is sexy. Not a revolutionary thought, but an important one nonetheless.

Let off my leash a bit (apparently I’m just meant to turn up, make eyes and be fabulous) I’ve found myself slightly drunk on freedom. And a little bit nervous. I feel like a rabid fox that’s escaped from quarantine.

I had my first date with the Film Buff last night and rocking up to the bar, I felt slightly rudderless. I’m so used to going into these things armed with a checklist and prescribed set of behaviors that knowing I could say whatever I wanted, drink however much I wanted and make a pass at him if I wanted was all a bit much.

But it turns out I had nothing to worry about; I fell back into calling my own shots in no time. It was made considerably easier by the fact that the dude was awesome. First of all, he had a Newcastle accent (which is inherently fantastic because he calls cigarettes “tabs”). Second of all, he was one of the most entertaining human beings I have ever met. We talked, we laughed, we drank the place dry. We went back to my place for some perfectly above-board bourbon and making out. In short, it was a grand time – I was fabulous, he was fabulous, the whole thing was fabulous. And I got to make out with a guy without worrying about lowering my prestige.

It’s weird, I’ve gone on so many dates over the past few months that I’d kind of forgotten that they’re meant to be fun. Surely Helen has it right – men are meant to be a pleasant accompaniment to a full and interesting life. And it doesn’t hurt if they have a Geordie accent.

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  • Meows says:

    Apologies that this doesn’t really relate to the current post, but I found this interesting and thought you might as well. I was hanging out with a boy/man that I’ve seen four or five times now. Somehow we stumbled into the what-do-you-think-about-me conversation, and he said one of the things he really liked about me was that I was often busy doing other things and hard to schedule dates with (coming from a guy who hates making plans!). Of course, this immediately made me think of The Rules. Even though my busy-ness is genuine and not calculated, it still seems to produce the desired allure. Anyhow, some more real world feedback for your research, make of it what you will…. :)

    • Love by the Book says:

      I think that it is totally true that the busier you are, the more appealing you are to the men in your life. All three books so far have encouraged having a jam-packed social calendar (or at least the appearance of a jam-packed social calendar). Works much better if it’s not calculated (for both parties). Besides, haven’t you ever had that tiny little voice in your head that questions whether or not a dude has any friends if he’s ALWAYS available? Harsh, I know, but undeniable. I think it must go both ways. I love that conversation by the way!

  • Alan S. says:

    Ha’way the lads!

  • Michelle says:

    Ha. Boy/Man. Aren’t they all. Enjoy your freedom.

  • Frances says:

    Girl, you’ve got to change up that “August’s Book” section, stat. It’s 9/16!


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